By CHARLES NWAOGUJI
The National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr. Herbert Ademola Ajayi, has expressed worries that despite government’s efforts at raising the textile industry intervention funds from N70 billion to N100 billion, growth in the sector may still be constrained unless the issues of power and smuggling are urgently addressed.
Ajayi, who stated this at the International exhibition of Fashion & Ready to Wear Garment, organised by Meridyen International Fair Organisation and Armanda International Limited in Lagos, lamented that not much money has been disbursed into the sector as the crisis of production has persisted in the sector.
He said: “We acknowledge that progress is being made in addressing the issues. Despite government efforts in providing this fund, the truth is that not much has been disbursed, such that crisis of production has persisted. But assuming financing is addressed, there cannot be real industrial revival if we do not urgently address the issues of power and smuggling.”
Ajayi noted that smuggling has reached an alarming rate and smugglers have occupied the productive space left by local producers and domestic investors.
Ajayi observed that power supply has also gone from bad to worse, adding that the few surviving industries in the country are running on generators on daily basis.
The NACCIMA boss expressed worries that the textile industry in Nigeria, which used to be one of the biggest in Africa and the largest employer of labour in the country, has shrunk dramatically as many companies have closed shop due to smuggling of cheap foreign textile materials and clothing into the Nigerian market.
He observed that the prices of local materials have also became much higher than its imported brands due to increased production costs.
He said: “President Goodluck Jonathan rekindled hope in industrialization and reaffirmed his belief in the primacy of industrial renaissance as an indispensable factor in poverty eradication. The reality however is that most factories have been shut down with millions of jobs lost and Nigeria today is the only 21st country without significant number of industrial workers because of collapse of the real sector of the economy.”
Also speaking at the event, the Ambassador of Turkey to Nigeria, Mr. Rafat Koksai, said that Nigeria, with a population of over 140 million people, constitutes a large market in Africa and possesses enough potentials for profitability of foreign direct investment.
Koksai, who was represented by the Commercial Councilor of Turkish Embassy, Mr. Bulent Ferik, noted that Nigeria has enormous investment opportunities in virtually all productive sectors of the economy, which Turkish businessmen have taken utmost advantage of.
He said there was the general acceptance and adoption of trade liberalization policy as a means of enhancing volume and free flow of trade among nations, which has made the world economy to become a global village.
“The need therefore for trade and product exhibitions of this nature to continually showcase products and services and improve the volume of trade, for which this present one is no exception, cannot be over emphasized,” he stressed.